Tag: New York Rangers

Video: Holtby denies St. Louis with quick left pad save


There was no score between the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals in the first period of Game 5, and the Capitals can thank goalie Braden Holtby for that.

Holtby was busy, particularly in the first half of the period when the shots were 11-2 New York at one point. His best save came on Martin St. Louis.

Holtby suddenly threw out the left pad to deny St. Louis in close on a cross-ice pass from Rick Nash, keeping the Rangers off the board. Through the first four games of this series, Holtby had allowed just five goals, with three of those coming in Game 2. He also has a save percentage this post-season of .950. Not bad.

Wild prospect Lucia won’t turn pro, but isn’t planning on testing free agency

Notre Dame v Massachusetts-Lowell

There were some eyebrows raised when Mario Lucia — Minnesota’s second-round pick at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft — opted against turning pro this week to return for his senior season at Notre Dame.

Was Lucia, like some previous collegiate draftees, thinking about letting the Wild’s rights expire to test free agency next summer?

Short answer: No.

“The Wild has a lot of interest in me,” Lucia said, per the Star-Tribune. “It’s my hometown team, and if I want to play in the NHL, I want to play with the Wild, for sure. I don’t anticipate not signing with the Wild when I’m ready.

“I just feel I should return to school, graduate and keep developing as a player.”

Lucia, 21, tied for 13th in the country this year in goals (13) and saw Fighting Irish linemate Vince Hinostroza sign a pro deal with Chicago, which some saw as a sign for Lucia make a similar leap (he’s also got NHL size at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds). But the Minnesota native — and son of Golden Gophers head coach Don Lucia — says he wants to further expand his game at the collegiate level before signing an entry-level deal.

That hasn’t, however, stopped people from wondering about the true intention of Lucia’s decision.

Ever since former Boston College star Kevin Hayes balked on signing with the Blackhawks — who took him in the first round in 2010 — to hit free agency and join the Rangers, seeds of doubt have been planted everywhere. We saw as much with Vermont’s Michael Paliotta (who eventually signed with Chicago, the team that drafted him) and Minnesota’s Mike Rielly (the Columbus draftee who’s announced he’s going pro… but maybe not as a Blue Jacket.)

NCAA draftees have leverage when it comes to staying in school for the full four years, then having their choice of suitors as unrestricted free agents.

But to hear Lucia explain it, that’s not what he’s planning to do.

“I really feel we have an opportunity to do special things here [in South Bend], and also I will really have an opportunity to focus on hockey next year,” he explained. “That can only help me mature as a player and help the Wild in the long run.”

Even Vanek admits he let the Wild down

Minnesota Wild v Chicago Blackhawks - Game Two

The Minnesota Wild signed Thomas Vanek to a lucrative deal with this in mind: they finally wanted to get over the hump against the Chicago Blackhawks. Vanek’s detractors would counter that he was the last guy who would accomplish such a task.

Unfortunately for the Wild, Vanek-haters seem to be correct, at least for one season. At least if you look at the results.

Even Vanek is disappointed with his play, as the Pioneer Press’ Chad Graff reports.

“I knew I only needed one to get going and I didn’t get it. I let them down,” Vanek said. “Their scorers scored when they needed to with timely goals and I didn’t.”

The 31-year-old didn’t just fail to score timely goals. He didn’t find the net in garbage time or merely to give Minnesota a little “insurance” either. In 10 playoff games, Vanek failed to score a single goal, settling for four assists.

Now, even the best snipers – a group Vanek belongs to, or at least once did – can hit a wall during the precious few games that make up a postseason. The 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs provide plenty of examples, from Steven Stamkos to Rick Nash. Marian Hossa’s struggles to get a bounce even flew under the radar, as his only goal of this playoff run so far came on an empty-netter in Game 4.

The key difference between Vanek and those other forwards is that, frankly, it’s tougher to gauge the effort from Vanek.

It’s not just a matter of puck luck failing him. Vanek only generated 19 shots on goal in 10 playoff games, and as flimsy as plus/minus can be, seeing him go pointless with a -4 mark in the last three contests isn’t promising. Unlike Hossa, Vanek doesn’t exactly draw rave reviews for his defensive play either, so it’s easy to understand the negativity surrounding the situation. NHL snipers don’t tend to age like fine wine, after all.

The key will be for him to play his game, and a big part of that is unleashing his shot with aplomb. Merely looking at his shot totals in 2013-14 (248 in 78 games with three different teams) versus this past season (just 171 in 80 contests with Minnesota), it’s reasonable to wonder if this was just an off year. Perhaps his off-the-ice issues were simply too much to overcome?

Whether it comes from within or from a coach saying the right words (Mike Yeo or perhaps someone else?), Vanek needs to turn things around.

At least he realizes as much, though.

PHT Morning Skate: ‘Business as usual’ tonight for Bishop

Ben Bishop

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Ben Bishop will make starts on consecutive nights for the first time this season tonight as the Tampa Bay Lightning look to complete the sweep of their second round series with the Montreal Canadiens. Jeremy Roenick and Anson Carter discuss the issues Bishop will face playing on back-to-back nights in the Florida heat.

With Patrick Kane scoring five goals through the first three games of the Blackhawks series against the Wild, a Wikipedia editor got a little creative with Minnesota’s Wikipedia page. (SI.com)

Ducks Patrick Maroon draws inspiration from young Kings’ fan battling cancer. (Bar Down)

“I wanted to prove I don’t belong in the stands” – Caps’ forward Andre Burakovsky on his two-goal performance in Game 4. (ESPN.com)

Mike Milbury and Keith Jones discuss what the Rangers need to do to address their scoring woes heading into Game 5.

Andre’s gigantic game: Caps push Rangers to the brink

New York Rangers v Washington Capitals - Game Four

Despite minuscule margins of error, the Washington Capitals now have a 3-1 series lead over the New York Rangers after a 2-1 win in Game 4.

Much like in Game 3, Braden Holtby was brilliant. This time around, the other Capitals hero was young gun Andre Burakovsky. He scored both of Washington’s goals, and each one was dazzling.

Click here for the first one and observe the game-winning beauty below:

Burakovsky scored his first two playoff goals in this game … and each one was artful.

Holtby’s highlight-reel moment won’t get buried too much, however, as his penalty-shot save on Carl Hagelin ranks as another masterpiece:

The Rangers and Capitals played another tight, close game, with New York carrying the first period, Washington turning it up a notch in the second and the third being pretty even.

Ultimately, the difference in this series has been a handful of Capitals forwards making huge plays (Alex Ovechkin’s beautiful goals, Burakovsky’s big night) and Holtby pulling off the rare feat of upstaging goaltending superstar Henrik Lundqvist.

To some, it might not seem fair that this series is 3-1, but the bottom line is that Washington managed that lead. The Rangers are just one loss from seeing their Presidents’ Trophy-winning season go down in flames against an all-too-familiar foe by an agonizingly small difference in bounces, breaks and big plays.

For a playoff overview and all tonight’s biggest stories, click here.